Star Tech

: Turnkey Accommodation Solutions

“Our clients, such as festivals like Francofolies de Montréal or Igloo Fest, appreciate not only that our solution saves them time and money, but also that they know exactly where their festivalgoers come from. Are they only in town for the two days of the event or are they extending their stay to discover the city? How many nights? Alone or accompanied, and by whom? In short, it’s all this data that represents a compelling advantage for our partners.”

Andrew Lockhead, CEO and Co-founder of Stay22

Stay22, an aggregator that lists nearly 6.5 million properties in 200 countries, helps travellers find the best accommodation options near the upcoming events they plan to attend. “We’ve targeted the niche of event management platforms, business conferences, festivals and more, which sets us apart in the huge online travel solutions market,” says Andrew.

Through agreements with partners such as Airbnb, but also with systems like Travelport and HotelsCombined, Stay22 offers visitors a hub that bringsall search resources together in one place, greatly simplifying the planning experience. Everything is adjusted on an interactive map that integrates directly with the event organizer’s website, ticket office or other online destination where users find themselves.

The platform can display everything about the event, including the distance between the accommodation option and the venue, as well as the type of environment: if it’s an area with a busy nightlife, an LGBT neighbourhood, a particularly friendly place, a foodie paradise, and lots of other information about the venue’s surroundings.

A fortuitous turn of events

Stay22 had its start when the company’s co-founder and CPO, Hamed Al-Khabaz, wanted to attend an event outside the city. He found it rather complicated to navigate between sites like Expedia, Kayak and Airbnb, having to copy and paste the address into Google Maps, then repeatedly enter the dates to find the best price among the various aggregators. “He figured there had to be a better way. Just getting ‘2.2 km’ as information, really means absolutely nothing,” Andrew explains. “Is it in the heart of the city, by the water or somewhere else?” Hamed thought that a map would be much more useful and could be integrated directly into the website, preventing users from being redirected to other sites.

Stay22 also facilitates the work of event organizers. “Many of them told us they had to call hotels, negotiate prices, invest a lot of time and energy,” recounts Andrew. “Now, in less than five minutes, they can integrate the solution directly into their website and all the possibilities are available to them in terms of type of accommodation – youth hostel, university residence, villa or 5-star hotel – all at the best price.”

They’re here to stay

Soon after its creation in October 2016, Stay22 took part in Denver, Colorado’s Travelport incubator. Four months later, back in Montreal, the startup was immediately selected by Canada’s largest accelerator, FounderFuel. The latter invested $100,000 in exchange for 5% of Stay22’s shares, which allowed them to promptly add six people to the initial duo, and to acquire around a hundred new partners in the event sector.

Their partnership with Airbnb also contributed to the success of Stay22, who ended the year with nearly 500 events around the world among their platform users. A $750,000 round of financing also enabled the young company to welcome four new talented players to their team, which now consists of twelve people.

When I asked him what was going on at Stay22 right now, Andrew was quick to point out that the company is hiring: “We’re always looking for representatives, but also web developers!”

Also, on April 18, the Montreal startup launched an alliance with Weezevent, one of the largest French ticketing companies, which is based in Montreal’s Mile-Ex. “We’re their newest exclusive hosting partner, and other partnerships are in sight for us… but I can’t talk about them yet,” enthuses Andrew, whose energy sets the tone for Stay22’s promising future.

Translated by Jenn Mierau

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